Georgia‘s time is now
Across Georgia Barnes’ life, London has acted as an incubator for her sound, a platform for her creativity and a playground for her hustle. But up until recently, she hasn’t been the focus of the operation.
Having spent years as a session musician for other artists, 25-year-old Georgia is now on the promotional trail for her own eponymous debut album. Her lifetime spent collaborating and providing for the passion projects of others has built her a naturally collaborative spirit – hoarding sounds from all over the world in the hope that her own concoctions become a little more unique.
After last summer’s Come In EP, Georgia Barnes’s cocktail of grime, electronica and pop received a flurry of attention from the right kind of music websites. Having studied ethnomusicology, her London is one defined by pluralism. While Georgia is a solo artist, her album is comprised of a thousand tiny collaborations with the world of sound she’s experienced through both travel and study.
It’s an ethos which is impossible to miss on Move Systems, the lead single from her forthcoming album. “It was inspired by Brazilian hip-hop which happens in the favelas in Rio,” she explains, “Really raucous beats with often female MCs over the top, totally killing it. I remember watching this little clip of an artist and it was really distorted. The beats were loud and kind of like” – her excitement while emulating the sound is audible, infectious – “boom-ka-dap-budu, and she was dancing, and it just looked like such high-energy stuff.” Barnes’s take on the Brazilian heat is a force to be reckoned with. Chunky beats clattering off of a distinctively London flow (“I went to meet Sheila / She was a dealer”), then a chorus which catapults from the pavement into a dreamy, ethereal melody. “I was trying to relate it to what me and my girls would do on a night out,” she explains. “Being a bit naughty. Trying to move the system.”
For all Georgia’s unselfconscious charm, there’s an almost confrontational fearlessness on show, born out of the self-belief integral to any young creative trying to get by. “From quite an early age – 19, really – I’ve been playing for bands. Up until this point it hasn’t all been roads to success. Sometimes when I was in the studio those frustrations came out through the music. Perhaps that’s why there is this sense of … I wouldn’t say anger, but there’s a punchiness about it”.
Georgia speaks about music with an unfiltered, unrehearsed vigour. Names and references flow off her tongue – Missy Elliot, Fever Ray, Oneohtrix Point Never, Joni Mitchell. “I could do a whole interview on records,” she laughs. It’s a messy web of influences, and such a patchwork amalgamation could easily materialise in a record with little in the way of cohesion. But Barnes somehow pulls it off.
With such a modern, magpie-like approach to building sounds, I tentatively ask if she’s ever written anything as traditional as a love song. She replies immediately. “The song Heart Wrecking Animals, that’s a love song really. As a songwriter, you can’t really avoid love as a subject”. The song she is referring to is a glassy, drumless ballad which sounds like Hudson Mohawke taking on desk duties for Kate Bush. It’s honest, a little schmaltzy and brilliantly performed. It’s a far stretch from the gloves-off sparring of Move Systems, or the album’s deviations into clanging London grime and warped post-punk, but it’s another necessary shade to the self-portrait. “It’s all a reflection on me really,” she says. “That’s why I called the album Georgia.”
Georgia is released 7 August via Domino Records